VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (WTKR)- Kory Johnston says that she got into running around age 11 while training for triathlons with her family. It's a love that has stuck, as she now takes the cross country course and the track for Frank Cox High School.
"I just really enjoy running with my friends and I like exercising with my family," said Johnston. "I think it creates a close bond between everybody."
Kory had been performing well for the Falcons, but this past spring, something was going wrong. She didn't feel like herself and couldn't perform up to her usual abilities.
"No matter what she did, her training got worse and worse, her times go slower and slower," recalled Falcons' head coach Lanny Doan.
"My track season wasn't going well, my cross country season wasn't going well, all of my races were really bad," Kory remembered.
After suffering through some struggles, Kory and her family sought medical advice, hoping to get some clarity on why she wasn't hitting her stride. A doctor had some of those answers.
"We finally saw a doctor, [who diagnosed] me with asthma and I was anemic," said Kory. "It was a really low time for me, really sad."
But even in those low and sad moments, the Cox runner never lost her focus or resolve. She wasn't about to quit. With the help of an inhaler to control the asthma and getting back to training, this Falcon started flying again.
"Trusting the process," Kory said of her mindset at the time. "Hoping I can get better and just seeing the progress."
"You're not reaching the success that you're capable of, but you're not moping about it," Doan noted of his runner's attitude. "You're not complaining. You're doing what you have to do to improve and get back to where you were and then get even better."
Getting better is exactly what Kory did. Two weeks ago she ran a personal best time of 19:23 for a 5K race and last weekend she rallied to a fifth place finish at the Atlantic Coast Invitational in Chesapeake. She and the Cox girls cross country team are currently ranked third in the state of Virginia, according to MileStat.
"It's just really exciting," the junior distance runner said of her comeback. "I could finally feel like I was getting better and I felt strong out there, not weak all the time."
Sports are full of trials and triumphs. Athletes often fall and have to learn to pick themselves up. Kory continues to push forward and serve as an example to other student-athletes around her.
"Just keep going," she said. "You'll see progress, just trust the process."
Her head coach agrees.
"Just because you're facing bad times, be a good person, work through it, and success is still going to come your way."